A 39-year-old man in prison for attempted murder was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of killing a 9-year-old girl in Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture, in 2004.
Yukiko Tsutsushio was stabbed to death after she returned home from school just after 3 p.m. on Sept 3, 2004. Her parents were out at the time. Her sister came home at about 3:30 p.m. and found Yukiko with multiple stab wounds to her chest and stomach.
More than 60,000 police officers worked on the case but failed to turn up any solid clues.
The case took a dramatic turn on Tuesday when inmate Kunihiko Katsuta said that he had killed Yukiko, Fuji TV reported. Police questioned Katsuta further about the crime and charged him with murder on Wednesday.
Police said Katsuta told them he saw Yukiko walking home alone and followed her. They said he admitted strangling her but denied stabbing her.
Katsuta was convicted of attempted murder in 2016 after he stabbed a junior high school girl on a street in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, in 2015. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Katsuta was also jailed in 2010 for four years for assaulting several school children. He said at the time he liked hitting children to see the look of terror on their faces and told the court he had punched children on at least 70 occasions.
Kyodo News reported Wednesday that at the initial trial, the Himeji branch of the Kobe District Court noted in its ruling that Katsuta had developed an interest in animation while at high school and a taste for seeing girls' shirts soaked in blood, which later grew into an urge to stab girls.
Police began questioning Katsuta last September as a potential suspect after they expanded the search area and scrutinized crimes with similar tactics, Kyodo reported.© Japan Today/KYODO